Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cult of Luongo on Life Support

Canucks logoRoberto Luongo had one hell of a regular season in 2010/11. Luongo combined with Vancouver Canucks' backup goalie Cory Schneider to allow only 180 goals all season. Which was good enough to win the Jennings trophy for the fewest goals scored against during the NHL regular season.

Luongo showed brilliance during the playoffs as well. But he stumbled badly in the finals against Boston. After playing solidly in games 1 and 2, the wheels came off for the Canucks in games 3 and 4. Luongo played poorly in both of those games in Boston and was pulled in game 4. Luongo was also abysmal in game 6 and was pulled once again, and his play in the deciding game 7 in Vancouver was less than brilliant.

His finals performance will only fuel the criticism that he chokes when the most important games are on the line.

Will next season see the Luongo's popularity take a serious hit as a result?

The Cult of Luongo

Luongo has always garnered near cult-like status amongst many Vancouver Canucks fans. But it's not only because of his stellar play (most of the time) that elevates Luongo's reputation with so many fans.

It's also because he demonstrates such a passsion for the game. But it's that overwhelming pressure of caring so much seems to cripple him at times.

The War of Art


In The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield discusses the mental forces that conspire to foil the performance of artists, entrepreneurs or anyone who devotes his life to chasing a dream. This passage summarizes how an athlete like Luongo can sabotage himself:

The professional has learned, however, that too much love [for his endeavor] can be a bad thing. Too much love can make him choke. The seeming detachment of the professional, the cold-blooded character to his demeanor is a compensating device to keep him from loving the game so much that he freezes in action. Playing for money or adopting the attitude of one who plays for money, lowers the fever.
...
The more you love your art, calling, enterprise, the more important its accomplishment is to the evolution of your soul , the more you will fear it and the more resistance you will experience facing it. The payoff of playing a game for money is not the money.

The payoff is that playing for money produces the proper professional attitude. It inculcates the lunch-pail mentality. The hard-core, hard-head, hard-hat state of mind. To think of yourself as a mercenary, a gun for hire, implants the proper humility. It purges pride and preciousness.
The above excerpt also explains why so many Canucks fans have built up the cult of Luongo. Because he is like one of them. He dies a little every time he lets the big one slip away.

And which is why the latest failure by the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup can be a good thing. With his relatively poor play being so costly for the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, the effect on Luongo could be profound enough that he is able to take that cool detachment to a new level and keep it going, without let-up, all through the 2011/12 regular season and playoffs.

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